LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As exciting as our exhibition schedule was, each game means a lot more when the regular season begins.
The difficult thing about playing teams like the University of Louisville, University of Cincinnati and Indiana University in the exhibition schedule is that it can be easy to think teams at our level cannot compete with us. The goal for the week was to fight complacency prior to our home opener.
With starting forward Josh Derksen out with a sprained ankle, it was up to other players on the team to step up as we tried to fight a sudden lack of depth. We had our hands full as we prepared to play two top teams from the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference -- Northwood University and Saginaw Valley State University.
Northwood presented a unique challenge for us on the defensive end. Their starting point guard, Maurice Jones, who transferred there from the University of Southern California, is one of the quickest guards I have ever seen.
Much of its offense was based on letting him get into the lane and make plays for the rest of the team, and he proved to be a tough challenge. but Yasin Kolo stepped up and dominated the second half to lead us to an 89-79 victory. Kolo finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
The following day, we had another tough game against the team that is picked to win the GLIAC, Saginaw Valley.
Saginaw has a much more balanced offensive attack but is also equally explosive. Late in the first half, we began to find a rhythm and stretched our lead to 15 points at the break. We continued that momentum into the second half as Rusty Troutman came out and played one of the best halves of basketball I have seen him play. He finished with 29 points.
Both games were in front of great Knights Hall crowds, with our students and fans coming out to support us. They were two of the best opening-weekend crowds I have ever played in front of.
George Suggs is a senior communication major at Bellarmine, and his basketball column will appear every week on WAVE3.com.